The Clock Winder

The Clock Winder

by Anne Tyler

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'Her brilliance in capturing the ripples on the surface of family life gives her a claim to be the Jane Austen of our age' - Allison Pearson, Daily Mail

Having sacked her handyman, newly-widowed Mrs Emerson finds a replacement in Elizabeth, a lanky, awkward girl. The Emersons - there are seven grown-up children - have a reputation for craziness and Elizabeth finds herself drawn into their disorderly lives against her will. But in the end it is hard to tell whether she is a victim of the needy Emersons, or the de facto ruler of the family.


‘She’s changed my perception on life’ Anna Chancellor

‘One of my favourite authors ’ Liane Moriarty

‘She spins gold' Elizabeth Buchan

‘Anne Tyler has no peer’ Anita Shreve

‘My favourite writer, and the best line-and-length novelist in the world’ Nick Hornby

‘A masterly author’ Sebastian Faulks

‘Tyler is not merely good, she is wickedly good’ John Updike

‘I love Anne Tyler’ Anita Brookner

‘Her fiction has strength of vision, originality, freshness, unconquerable humour’ Eudora Welty

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307788443
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/26/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 298,353
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her bestselling novels include Breathing Lessons, The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Ladder of Years, Back When We Were Grownups, A Patchwork Planet, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America, A Spool of Blue Thread, Vinegar Girl and Clock Dance.

In 1989 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons; in 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English'; in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence; and in 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

October 25, 1941

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota


B.A., Duke University, 1961

Customer Reviews

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Clock Winder 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
1960s Baltimore. Mr. Emerson had clocks in every room and had a schedule for when to wind them so that they all rang out at the same time. When he died, his widow, Pamela, was at a loss as to how to keep the clocks wound and chiming simultaneously and also how to take care of everything else in her huge house, especially after firing all of her help. Then along came Elizabeth, easygoing, friendly, a klutz, but who suddenly turns into an ace handyman/woman when working for Mrs. Emerson, surprising even herself, and she enjoys it. There are 7 Emerson children, all grown, and two of the boys, Timothy and Matthew, are attracted to Elizabeth and enjoy her company, which leads to tragedy but also, eventually, healing. Nobody does quirky characters like Anne Tyler, and Elizabeth and the Emersons don't disappoint, but it is a lovable and humorous quirkiness. An enjoyable book with memorable characters and situations.
benuathanasia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The characters are portrayed to be "quirky" but instead come off as second rate soap opera stars. The title of the book adds a non-existant air of mystique that was found to be of little relevance to the story; metaphorically or literally. The "climax" of the story is rushed, lacking any true tone of foreclosure, as though the author herself grew as bored writing the book as this reader did of reading it. The ending of the story lacked coherance; suddenly changing to the perspective of a character hardly mentioned throughout the rest of the book.Although in retrospect, it can be admitted that the swarming of cicadas in the final chapter would make a very dramatic scene in a B-rated horror movie; however, they lacked any place in this story except for very modest symbolism, with horrid timing. If they were meant to represent the inner demons of the Emersons (as I suspect they were) then they would have been much better suited in a chapter that has a more direct connection to the problems the Emerson's faced.
co_coyote on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The kids have all (finally!) left home for college, so the other day I thought it was time to head down to the downstairs, where their bedrooms were, with a pitchfork and clean the place up some. What a disaster! The only bright spot in my otherwise dreary day was sorting and dusting and rearranging the myriad books down there I had forgotten we owned. It was almost like a high-school reunion with old friends! I found this book, an early one from Anne Tyler that I must have read in the 1970s, and I couldn't remember it, so I started to read it again. It is not my favorite Anne Tyler, but you see evidence of the quirky dialog and strange, drifting characters that were to become her trademark. I guess at one time I must have owned every book Anne Tyler ever wrote, and I've always found them good for another read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anne Tyler shows an unusually refined eye for detail and abijity to convey atmosphere. Clock Winder somehow manages to feel inevitable and random simultaneously. Recommended for anyone who enjoys the mildly offbeat.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I personally enjoyed 'The Clock Winder'. It was a little slow, but the characters were real, quirky, and unpredictable. The ending for me, could say many things depending on ones' personal background.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read my way through almost every Anne Tyler book, I was very surprised with the lack of depth and humor as is customary with Ms. Tyler's works. I kept waiting for some huge correlation between the title and plot but found little, if any, to tie them together. Unfortunately this read was a disappointment.